Building out a smart home doesn’t have to cost a ton of money or even take a lot of time. Sure, depending on the level of automation you want, you can really get in the weeds with rewiring your lights or other electric work. But the SwitchBot is likely the simplest—and most affordable—way to go about it. This simple button-pressing device that retrofits to your switches, buttons, and older appliances, turning your existing gear smart so that you can control things like your garage door or coffee maker with voice commands, a mobile app, or even basic pre-set schedules.
There are no tools or effort required; you simply press this little cube onto your device with the included 3M tape, and its retractable arm applies pressure to your switches. (The rocker switch attachment allows for control of both directions.) There are some drawbacks. You’re out of luck if your home is filled with toggle switches, as the bot can only perform a pressing motion, not a flip. And, while the Bluetooth functionality is responsive when you’re in proximity of the bot, if you want to control it over the internet from anywhere, you’ll have to buy the hub separately.
I automate most of my analog equipment with this little bot for several reasons. Smart plugs can’t control certain devices like a garage door opener or light switch, yet a SwitchBot can while eating up minimal Wi-Fi bandwidth. And older devices like radios and alarm clocks remember their programming settings since they’re turned off instead of having their power supply interrupted (which is how other smart plugs achieve this automation). Here’s how I use mine and some ideas, and hopefully inspiration, for integrating them into your own smart home.
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With a SwitchBot on my single-serve Black & Decker coffee machine’s power button (as you see in the top photo), I schedule my brews to heat up when I wake up. I leave the coffee grinds and water in overnight with a mug in place. I’ve set the SwitchBot through the app to press the button, turning the coffee maker on and starting the brewing process, at 8 o’clock so my cup of joe is waiting for me. I even leave the coffee grounds and a mug loaded up after this first cup so it’ll be ready to make another drink as I’m on my way home from work. During the harsh winters in the Northeast, it’s a treat to come back to coffee.
My garage door opener has a push-button, which made it easy to mount a SwitchBot above it for an optimal pressing angle. I tested the placement of the SwitchBot, as well as activated its arm, before removing the 3M adhesive sticker on the bot. (It’s important to get a clean attachment on the first try, as the bot’s strong retractable arm can push itself off if the device is only loosely attached.) Now I manage my garage door from any of my smart hub assistants or phone. To elevate this setup even further, I use one of these Wyze contact sensors on my garage door to let me know when the garage door is opened or closed and to send an alert when it’s left ajar for longer than 15 minutes.
I’ve placed a SwitchBot on my older laundry machine. Once I throw in a load, I simply tell my Alexa or phone to hit the play button to kick off a cycle. This is handy when I forget that I threw a load of laundry in the day before and need to rewash it or simply want to start a wash when I feel like it. I have multiple smart hubs throughout my house to give me a heads up that a load is finished through a timer. It’s convenient to set a wash, close the door, and forget about it as I move onto other tasks.
I simply attached the SwitchBot and included rocker dongle to my switches to press them up or down effortlessly. I use this on light and outlet power control switches across my home. Unfortunately, the one toggle switch in my place is linked to my fireplace. It’s a bit disappointing that I can’t say, “Alexa, turn on my fireplace,” and watch the flames shoot up. But converting toggle switches to rockers is relatively easy.
Computer Desktop Setup
Since my office is upstairs in a loft, it’s annoying to climb back up to turn off my desktop or monitor. I’ve placed a SwitchBot on both their power buttons to turn them on before I head up in the morning and then back off after work. This lets me fully turn off my systems to save energy and wake up my computer before I head into the office so it’s ready for the work day ahead.
My house is teeming with gaming collectibles. I use SwitchBots to power those on so that things like my Xbox Achievement light glow when I activate the bot. With a command, I can bring it to life when I enter the room. And when I leave, I turn it off the same way.
These are just some of the applications I’ve found for my SwitchBots. Other popular uses include cabinet smart locks, apartment buzzers to unlock doors, and kitchen gadgets like rice cookers. The possibilities are open to whatever button-based device you’d like to automate.
Hunter Fenollol, our resident expert of all things consumer tech, from smart home to VR gaming headsets, has years of knowledge creating product explainers, in-depth reviews, and buying guides to help you get the most from the latest electronics. Throughout college, he covered and reviewed the latest gadget releases for sites like Tom’s Guide, Laptop Magazine, and CNN Underscored. If he’s not elbow-deep in the latest hardware, you can find Hunter at one of Long Island’s many beaches, in Manhattan, or gambling away his paycheck.